Wills Glossary

Administrator (or administratix if female)
Under English law, a person appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person when there is no executor.
Adult
Under English law, a person aged 18 or ove
Annuity
An annual payment to an individual, usually resulting from a capital investment. The regular annual sums cease on death. Due to the payment mainly consisting of a return of capital, only a small part of the annuity usually bears tax at the basic rate.
Bare trust
A bare trust is one in which the beneficiary has an absolute entitlement to the income and the capital at any time.
Beneficial joint tenants
People who own property jointly in equal shares. If one dies, their share passes to the others by survivorship. In other words, no matter what their Will might say, the deceased's share will go to the surviving tenant(s). To avoid that result, the joint tenancy can be severed; see Severance of a Joint Tenancy.
Beneficiary
A person who receives all or part of an estate under a Will. A beneficiary may also be a person who receives payment from a life insurance policy or a trust.
Bequeath
To leave money or property (other than land) to someone in a Will.
Bequest
A gift of money or property (other than land) in a Will. For land, see Devise.
Child
See Minor.
Codicil
A document that modifies some provision of a Will but doesn't revoke it.
Confirmation
In Scotland, authority granted by the court to the executors to administer the deceased’s estate.
Covenant
A payment under a deed of covenant in favour of a charity will normally benefit the charity in that the basic rate tax paid by the individual can usually be reclaimed by the charity, thereby adding to its income – replaced by Gift Aid.
Devise
A gift of land or other real property made in a Will. See Bequest.
Discretionary trust
Discretionary trust is a type of trust whereby the trustees are given discretion as to the way in which they distribute income and capital to the various potential beneficiaries. In the case of other (non-discretionary) trusts the trustees are bound to pay the income over to the named beneficiaries.
Dispone
In Scotland, to transfer or give.
Encumbrance
Usually a mortgage or charge upon property securing the payment of a debt or other liability.
Endowment
This usually is a form of life insurance involving payment by the insurer of a sum on a specified date, or on death.
Estate
All the property belonging to a person at death.
Execute
To sign or otherwise complete the formalities of a legal document.
Executor (or executrix, if female)
A person named in a Will to manage the deceased’s estate and to ensure that a testator’s wishes are carried out and the Will followed. For Scotland, see Executor Nominate.
Executor-dative
In Scotland, a person appointed by the court to manage the estate of a deceased person when there is no Executor Nominate.
Executor-nominate
In Scotland a person named in a Will to manage the deceased’s estate.
Gift Aid
Whereas deeds of covenant must be written to last at least four years, Gift Aid covers individual single donations to charities from which, so long as enough basic rate tax has been paid by the donor, the charity is entitled to reclaim the tax. A form has to be filled in and handed to the charity.
Guardian
A person with parental responsibility for a minor child.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
Inheritance tax is the tax payable on assets transferred on death and by way of lifetime gift, although estates (including transfers in the previous seven years) don’t pay tax on the first £325,000.
Inheritance Tax exemption
It’s possible to give away £3,000 each year (the annual exemption) with no Inheritance Tax implications. If you didn't use the previous year’s exemption, it's also possible to go back one year and include that as well, thereby doubling up the exemption to £6,000.
Insolvent estate
An estate which has liabilities, including funeral and administration expenses, that exceed its assets.
Intestate
Dying without leaving a valid Will.
Issue
All of the children, grandchildren and remoter descendants of a person, whether born within or outside marriage, including adopted children.
Joint property
Property owned jointly with another person or persons.
Joint tenancy
See Beneficial Joint Tenants.
Legacy
Usually a gift of money in a Will.
Legal rights
In Scotland, the claims which the surviving spouse and/or issue have to share in the deceased’s estate, whether or not the deceased died intestate.
Legatee
A person entitled to a legacy under a Will.
Minor
Under English law, a person under the age of 18 and under Scottish law, a person under the age of 16.
Obtaining Confirmation
n Scotland, the process of proving the validity of a Will, and the executor’s authority to manage the estate, by application to the local Sheriff Court.
Obtaining Probate
Under English law, the process of proving the validity of a Will, and the executor’s authority to manage the estate.
Pecuniary legacy
A gift of a sum of money in a Will.
Per stirpes
In Scotland, division between a number of beneficiaries according to branches of the family, as opposed to equally among all the beneficiaries.
Potentially exempt transfer
A gift made by an individual that, so long as the donor lives for a further seven years, won’t attract Inheritance Tax.
Replacement beneficiary
A person designated as a beneficiary if someone else predeceases you or fails to survive you for a specified period or to reach a specified age.
Residuary beneficiary
A beneficiary who receives the residue of an estate or part of it.
Residuary gift
A gift of residue made in a Will.
Residue
The remainder of an estate after the deduction of tax, debts, specific gifts, legacies and the expenses of administration.
Severance of a joint tenancy
The act of converting a joint tenancy into a tenancy in common. Any joint tenant can do this unilaterally at any time by executing an appropriate document and notifying their fellow joint tenants.
Solicitor
Someone who has been 'admitted to the roll', i.e. is qualified as a solicitor. In order to practice, a solicitor must hold a practicing certificate issued annually by the Law Society.
Specific gift
A gift of a particular item of property in a Will.
Substitutional beneficiary
In Scotland, a person designated as a beneficiary if someone else predeceases the testator or fails to survive the testator for a specified period or to reach a specified age.
Survivorship clause
A clause in a Will stating what is to happen if a beneficiary dies before the testator or before the end of a specified period after the testator's death or before reaching a specified age.
Survivorship destination
In Scotland, this is a way of holding property so that, when one of the joint owners dies, their share passes automatically to the others. See Beneficial Joint Tenants.
Term assurance
This is a cheap form of life assurance whereby, on the death of an individual within a certain specified time, a capital sum will be paid. This can be useful for providing for possible Inheritance Tax liabilities.
Testator (or testatrix, if female)
A person who makes a Will.
Trust
An arrangement under which a person or persons (the trustee or trustees) hold and manage property (which can be money, shares, land, etc.) for the benefit of another person or persons (the trust beneficiary or beneficiaries).
Trustee
A person appointed to hold property upon trust for another. Trustees have a duty to act in good faith, which means they cannot enrich themselves at the expense of their beneficiaries.
Will
A legal document which sets out the wishes of the testator for the distribution of their estate and certain other matters after their death.
Witness
A person who signs a Will to signify that they saw the testator sign it.

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